2016-08-31 / World News

Jewish outreach pioneer Esther Jungreis mourned

Esther Jungreis, a pioneer in the Jewish outreach movement and founder of the organization Hineni, passed away at the age of 80.

Jungreis was born in Szeged, Hungary, in 1936, where her father was chief rabbi. A child survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she and her family resettled in 1947 in Brooklyn, where she married her distant cousin, Rabbi Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, according to the Yeshiva World. She and her husband, who died in 1996, founded the North Woodmere Jewish Center/Congregation Ohr Torah on Long Island in 1964.

Jungreis, known universally by the honorific rebbetzin, founded Hineni in 1973 in order to bring young Jews closer to Orthodox Judaism by offering Torah classes, singles events, and Shabbat and holiday services. She spoke to audiences across the United States, including at Madison Square Garden in 1973.

She was known for her work in outreach to young Jews, as well as for self-help books about a variety of topics, including marriage and relationship advice, as well as how to deal with challenges in life.

Jungreis drew inspiration from her experience as a Holocaust survivor to fight for Jewish continuity and against intermarriage. But her statements comparing assimilation to the Holocaust sometimes sparked controversy. (JTA)

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